Ghost Roadhouse unofficially started a number of years ago on the campus of Eastern Michigan University. Nick and I worked as managers in the game room, which was called "Savage Gecko's" back then. On dead nights, I would sit around the pool tables with some friends playing games. "Spud" -- who is still involved with Ghost Roadhouse today -- challenged me to try to make a game that we could all play together (Spud also came up with the name Ghost Roadhouse). I started by coming up with a concept and some simple rules, then I made some cards with clip art or hand drawing the pictures, printed them out from the printer, and slid them into card sleeves using trading cards as the backing for structural support (incidentally, this is the exact same method we use to prototype today). In only about 3 hours I had a game made -- the painfully blandly-named "Ogres." I never made a rule book and the box was plain white. It was clearly done by an amateur, completely unprofessionally, but from the start I realized that all that didn't matter. This just meant we got to play it sooner! I didn't have to impress my friends with some stupid box art. We got to play a game that I made myself and I felt very proud.
I loved games ever since I was little -- how could you not? They were so cool! My generation had Mortal Kombat, Super Mario, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, Goldeneye, Pokémon, Metal Gear Solid, Grand Theft Auto, the list goes on! My grandma knew my brother and I loved games and she wanted us to have fun when we came over, so she bought us a cheap NES and SNES from a garage sale by her house. Every time we came over she'd play Super Mario with us even though she didn't really like it because it stressed her out. She would get so anxious when Mario was going to die that she'd scream and throw the controller in panic. She'd also make Mario run around and yell "Pachoo Pachoo" like a gun whenever she got a fire flower (English was not her first language). My favorite game-related memory though is the day my little brother and I got Tony Hawk's Pro Skater for the N64. We literally stayed up all night beating it, and in the morning when our dad woke up and saw us, he asked "Did you guys really get up early just to play this game?" My brother and I just looked at each other and laughed.
"More with the people than with the game system itself"
Games helped to bring my family and friends and I closer. With modern gaming moving more towards solo experiences or online multiplayer, I feel like games have lost a bit of the comradery that they used to be able to facilitate. You used to be able to invite a friend over and the two of you would sit on the couch talking all night. It may be because of this that I have drifted much more towards board games. I love getting a group of people around a table and playing games like Resistance where you are playing more with the people than with the game system itself. Because of this, games that are portable, easy to learn, and that create interpersonal moments with the people with which you play are the type of games that I am continuously trying to design and to find. Nintendo is still fantastic at this, and if you'd like to try out a fun free one, I absolutely recommend "Spaceteam" on iOS and Android.
Here's another free one with no download required; a classic camp game where the entire "game" is just learning how to play it. Once you and a friend both understand how it works, bust it out at a party and see how long it takes other people to get it. It was pleasantly surprising when my brother and I realized that we both knew the rules to it at Nick's birthday party last month. We just started practicing some to each other and ended up with a rapt crowd trying to follow along with us for a couple hours. A few people did figure it out and they joined in on the game too. Oh, and since the fun is trying to figure it out, I'm not going to give you the rules. If you know how to play, please don't spoil it in the comments either. Just take your best guesses and if you think you've got it, post your own in the comments and we'll guess! Ready?
*= a snap. ** = two snaps. Etc.
Snaps is the name of the game:
This one will be easier. ****. Notice that I already said this person's name before. You should be able to figure it out. Here come more snaps. *. We've only got one more clue. Kindly note the answer is located far below the spoiler block of blank space.
The answer: Tony Hawk.
Here's one more, but this time you have to guess.
Snaps is the name of the game.
Many of you may not know who this person is. *. Reading his name is pretty easy though. Keep in mind he is a pretty famous person in the gaming community. Remarkably, Nick has often said he is an inspiration. ****. Still keeping up? **. We made sure there were a lot of snaps in this one to help you. *. That is an actual hint, btw. **. Ready to post your guess in the comments?